My last day with the caballeros
Last day of walking with Manual and Benedicto on the Almería to Granada section of the Camino Mozárabe! We three are all ending in Granada. The caballeros are heading to Malaga to fly home to the Canary Islands on Sunday, and I’ve a bit less than a week before I go back to Madrid, to fly home later next week.
What a good start to the day! No rain, a good night’s sleep and an open cafe a mere 10′ away in the direction we were headed. Still dark as we headed down through Quentar to the cafe a bit after 07:00 for a breakfast of toast with tomato and olive oil and, a couple of coffees each.
Then the last anisette for the caballeros for another year as it was our last day and they drink it only on a camino. One of our last toasts to Dumas, a dog who followed them on one camino and who did not go back, as they’d been told he would. In fact, he continued with them and was run over. They buried him and still toast him!
A beautiful section to start the camino today. Tracks alongside rivers that contain water, and ducks. A green valley for a start. Very different from those earlier on this camino. And it’s a little short of 20km for the day. A mere bagatelle after yesterday.
A long hill not far out of Quentar to climb. The sun was still to rise over the valleys.
As the sun rose we were climbing, up and up, past an old aqueduct and mill. M was carrying about 15kg and must have been counting down the hours given the skin abrasions on his shoulders. Not once did he complain or mention them.
We walked past an old monastery, huge and very damaged, between olive trees and along the river Dario) that flows into Granada. The path was a little confusing at this stage but, who cared!
By now our proximity to the city was obvious: life-threatening cyclists suddenly and silently shot out at us from around blind corners on the rough track and were gone just as quickly. And trail bike riders trying death defying tracks up the steep hillsides. Noisy! The least threatening and quietest was a horse with a rider and a dog.
And then we were in Sacramonte, a hill suburb of Granada originally inhabited by gypsies and the site of a number of flamenco bars and a few caves in the hills there. Frankly, it’s very touristy and as much as we wanted a drink (and toilet) stopping there was out of the question.
Further down towards the city we headed. Stopped, taking photos and ran into a young couple who asked us about the Camino, Cristobal and Julia. Wonder of wonders, they were also from the Canary Islands, like the boys.
We followed them to a nice place near the cathedral for drinks and many many tapas. From bits of fish to eggplant fried in honey, chorizo, fried onion rings, potato, chicken, calamari and multiple serves of the multitudinous options. Beer for the four of them and Coke light for me. And many repeats of everything.
Listening to the 4 of them I marvelled that I’d ever understood B! His accent is very broad and, to my ear, misses much more than just the ‘r’ in words. When he’d said ‘otro’ (other) I’d heard as a cross between ‘odio’ (i hated) and ‘oli’ (I smelt). Easy to imagine my problems in understanding him. And it was just one word among hundreds!
During our time together though he was very patient, repeated things to me many times, and adapted his language when he remembered or I’d said ‘I don’t understand’ yet again. I was lucky he likes to talk and he is not easily discouraged 😃
One toe nail will drop off soon. My error as it was first damaged months ago and a sock got caught on it again in the last few km into Granada. I should have stopped and fixed my sock but didn’t care at that stage. My punishment will arrive in the next few days. 😳
My hat: despite the rain and dust it is not ruined yet and has a ticket back to Australia for sheer loyalty and because it never left my head against my wishes. Oh, and I like it.
Meeting the caballeros made this walk for me. Prior to this I’d walked two separate sections of the Camino Levante and, the Malaga to Cabra section of the Camino Mozarabe totally alone. Of the many nights on these walks I only ever had one room mate, an Italian guy walking a GR route that crossed the Camino Levante between Toledo and Avila one wet night.
Walking alone can be best sometimes. But it’s the nights alone, being the only person in a building or in a room made for many more people, that I grew to dislike. Yes, no lines for showers or difficulties finding somewhere to hang your washing or wondering if you snored or sharing powerpoints. But, the benefits of always being alone can wear off.
This time it wasn’t a matter of having just any company. It was that Benedicto and Manual are such nice guys, kind, thoughtful. Existing in a Spanish-only world for 9 days was very good for me. It helped my understanding of Spanish considerably and tv makes more sense (???). Unfortunately i need many more hours in school to speak it even reasonably yet. Sigh. 🤓
Wearing trail shoes: a very good decision given the warm and dry weather. Walking through the one creek was no problem, considerably better than with water in shoes with goretex. My trail shoes and socks dried out as we walked. They wore faster than quality walking shoes would but, were much more comfortable in all terrains from gravel to stone to cobblestone to bitumen. No blisters, and the only problem was my fault, a sock catching on and pulling back the toenail I’d previously lost just a few months ago. Yes, it’ll go again in a few weeks.
My electronic maps and the documentation for this trip were better than on any previous camino ever. Well, certainly as good as Brierly on the Frances. For that I owe my thanks to the Asociación Jacobea de Almeria who oversee the Camino Mozárabe de Santiago de Almería. Thanks to them for their GPS data points and their electronic guides (in english and spanish, their maps, website, list of bars and restaurants). One suggestion to them: please date your guides as you release them as I later received a hard copy of your maps and accommodation from José, in Alba, that was more recent than my electronic version.
Thanks also to Kevin O’Brien for his notes on his walk on the Camino Mozárabe from Almeria. I enjoyed reading them and found them very useful. Similarly with the notes Care15 has on the following excellent Camino website run by Ivar:
And then there are the wonderful people along the way who run albergues and casa rurales such as José in Alba.
The caballeros, Manuel and Benedicto, for their company and the joy of sharing a few hundred km with such nice people. Sometimes I think they wondered how I’d ‘happened’ to them! One more entry/blog to come on this Camino with some fotos from Benedicto I can’t access at present).